WHT Law

Babysitting and Children Home Alone

image_pdfimage_print

BABYSITTING AND CHILDREN HOME ALONE

I.  720 ILCS 5/12C-10 – Child Abandonment

 (a)        A person commits the offense of child abandonment when he or she, as a parent, guardian, or other person having physical custody or control of a child, without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that child, knowingly leaves that child who is under the age of 13 without supervision by a responsible person over the age of 14 for a period of 24 hours or more. A person does not commit the offense of child abandonment when he or she relinquishes a child in accordance with the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act.

 (b)        For the purposes of determining whether the child was left without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that child, the trier of fact shall consider the following factors:

(1)        the age of the child;

(2)        the number of children left at the location;

(3)        the special needs of the child, including whether the child is physically or mentally handicapped, or otherwise in need of ongoing prescribed medical treatment such as periodic doses of insulin or other medications;

(4)        the duration of time in which the child was left without supervision;

(5)        the condition and location of the place where the child was left without supervision;

(6)        the time of day or night when the child was left without supervision;

(7)        the weather conditions, including whether the child was left in a location with adequate protection from the natural elements such as adequate heat or light;

(8)        the location of the parent, guardian, or other person having physical custody or control of the child at the time the child was left without supervision, the physical distance the child was from the parent, guardian, or other person having physical custody or control of the child at the time the child was without supervision;

(9)        whether the child’s movement was restricted, or the child was otherwise locked within a room or other structure;

(10)      whether the child was given a phone number of a person or location to call in the event of an emergency and whether the child was capable of making an emergency call;

(11)      whether there was food and other provision left for the child;

(12)      whether any of the conduct is attributable to economic hardship or illness and the parent, guardian or other person having physical custody or control of the child made a good faith effort to provide for the health and safety of the child;

(13)      the age and physical and mental capabilities of the person or persons who provided supervision for the child;

(14)      any other factor that would endanger the health or safety of that particular child;

(15)      whether the child was left under the supervision of another person.

Notably, the first offense of child abandonment is a Class 4 felony; the second or subsequent offense of child abandonment is a Class 3 felony.

II.  Relevant Case Law Regarding 720 ILCS 5/12-21.5

As of August 2015, there remain no cases regarding this statute. It appears that the answer regarding the age limitations for a child to babysit another child is that the babysitter must be over the age of 14 if he or she is watching a child who is under the age of 13.

In reviewing 720 ILCS 5/12C-10 it appears that a parent or guardian cannot be criminally charged for leaving a child alone for a 24 hour period of time as long as the child is 13 years of age or older.

III.  720 ILCS 5/12C-5 – Endangering the Life or Health of a Child

(a)        It is unlawful for any person to knowingly cause or permit the life or health of a child under the age of 18 to be endangered or to knowingly cause or permit a child to be placed in circumstances that endanger the child’s life or health. It is not unlawful for a person to relinquish a child in accordance with the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act.

(b)        A trier of fact may infer that a child 6 years of age or younger is unattended if that child is left in a motor vehicle for more than 10 minutes.

(c)        “Unattended” means either: (i) not accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older; or (ii) if accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older, out of sight of that person.

Notably, the first offense of endangering the life or health of a child is a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent offense is a Class 3 Felony.

IV.  705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(d) – Neglected or Abused Minor

(1)        Those who are neglected include:

(d)        minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that minor.